Sustain Your Practice : opening moves

I signed up for SYP before submitting assignments 5s for Res and BoW, I wanted a little transition to see if any redundancy would emerge. I asked for my Res tutor to continue as my SYP tutor which meant that I would benefit from both L3 tutors for two modules each.

We had a preparatory conversation in early May and it was incredibly useful at that time as it wrapped and focused the eventually fairly tight submission deadlines for Res and BoW but also helped me with some motivation towards moving forward with this work and using SYP as a way to revisit a number of intentions, motivations and ambitions that I had and have for pursuing this Creative Arts degree and, crucially, for sticking with it for this long.

The notes for the May meeting are as follows:

  • Site specificity of the work for this site that I found myself and the work in?
    • Where and how does the work exist?
    • Does the documentation become the work?
  • Rachel says that what is good about SYP is its seriousness of identifying, articulating and seeking who and where the audience is and how to interact with the work: taking engagement very serious.
  • Sol de Witt’s Instructional Drawings
  • Elisabeth Tonnnard’s Swimming Pool Book and Ed Ruscha
  • But to return to the engagement and to finding your audience as key to sustaining your practice
  • The extent tow which text and journal submissions are part of this
  • To use the 9 months that I have and to schedule what needs to happen
  • Submit the project plan and the other assignments happens somewhat concurrently
  • How to delineate what is BoW and Res, and how SYP traditionally only pursues BoW in an exhibition format
  • There is often a mistake that people submit too much as BoW for assessment: be clear what needs to be submitted: like, 3 objects and the relationship across (and to check with Doug)
  • 20 July as submission for SYP 1

I submit Res 5 and BoW 5 after this discussion and then have a joint tutorial (plus a written one for Res 5) with both my tutors. The latter, as requirement for BoW 5, includes a projected engagement plan which now folds forward in to SYP A1.

After conclusion of Res 5 I start a series of site-based drawings, essentially the final drawing for BoW that I halted as I began to understand it as Research Object, not as part of BoW. I use the practice of this drawing as transition and then begin in early July to assemble the materials for SYP 1. As with all modules it has a series of exercises to gather and review at the start, they are good ones and I will place them on the blog over the next week.

I also sign up for another Practice as Research set of workshops with Rachel for the CA cohort and am offered a 45 min slot to talk about my work, I use this to tease out connections and lose threads and try to make communicable how I research and what my methodology is (in part I see this working towards that development of a mobile toolkit, another part helps me write the project plan alongside).

(I will add and later link relevant blog posts here).

I remain a bit daunted by the timescale as my family situation remains fragile as it is, at the same time I take confidence from what has been possible to do over the past year and have a strong BoW and Res completed and to move forward with. The start of SYP helps me to remember the reasons for sticking with the degree, even though my location and the field in which I would see my artistic practice be professionally situated shifted so much over the past 18 months. Some of that however doesn’t matter and I have a good sense of what I want to make public, to what kind of public and with what kind of professional position. For this, SYP will be good.

(no images today)

Picking a line as research enquiry:

For the current iteration of Rachel Smith’s Practice as Research workshops, I looked at my research objects at this moment of transition between BoW/Research and SYP and made a line of enquiry to explore the methodology, the notion of a research drawing as well as what in my work presents a mobile toolkit to take elsewhere during SYP:

I will try to pick a line that…

in three parts explores
a. a Research Drawing of the space underneath the fir tree that marks the beginning of For Cover last autumn
b. the role of insolent reading (or: reading, voicing, writing in/of site with Laura Marks’ the Haptic and the Erotic as key theory for the work; and 
c. the methodology of using audio recordings while walking as theory/methodology development for Research/Body of Work

This padlet column presents an Ariadne Thread, a linear tangle of these items. It is an aid for me to talk about and for you to explore the bits that hold interest.

Made with Padlet

Critical reflection of relationship between BoW and Research

I have always worked these two in tandem, submitting them throughout by alternating them. By Research 3 (March 2020) it was becoming clear that Research itself was creating art objects and works (the padlets and the glossary first) and that thus the BoW was in objecthood disarticulating from the research enquiry. Significant was the moment when I discovered I was going to do an actual research project, first considered as auto-ethnography, the writing auto or theory fiction, at the point of eventual conclusion the research shifted towards a creative arts practice-as-research, PaR, the writing an exegesis with elements of creative writing but likely fairly consistent with a PaR-based complementary writing (Robin Nelson) approach: it enabled me to integrate my former academic research self more fully within an artistic context, making the researcher part of the artist and part of my artistic voice. Understanding the significance of PaR as creative practice was important here also to realise what kind of art I am interested in making (and also what less so), that my art was process-based, yet finding material objects (in analogue or digital) as resolution was something I did know before embarking on Level 3, the extent to which an active enquiry was part of the process was something I honed and refined. The status of art works was somewhat fleeting, abundant, slight at the point Lockdown 1 happened in the UK and I lost the institutional staircase site as research and installation venue just before I felt the research cycle was concluded. I had devised a series of interventions into that site (albeit I submitted these for Research 3 and not BoW4) which were however never realised. The next step was to fold these into a mobile walking loop outside to take account of contact restrictions and to develop the fictional elements of drawing/contact, near-space and moving-with further in summer 2020. These were abandoned when I moved to German due to my father’s stroke and then staying due to his poor health and looming travel restrictions from September 2020 onwards.The work I made during those months was first and foremost practical: to occupy myself and find ways of processing that was happening. I quickly realised how the methodology of making (cyanotype contacts prints outside of moving and slight leaves and other plant matter) was fully situated and articulated within the drawing/contact framework: I had in fact had the chemistry I had bought in early summer sent over to use here and not there. The work became extensive, vast, a new site emerged, a transformer station to enquiry into and perform-with. At this point the research methodology was fairly well-articulated and as it was holding along the main parameters of drawing/contact and its questions (body as drawing tool, relational contact, materialisations of these), I decided to keep this methodological focus of the research and to keep what was the original work as case studies, to develop them as research objects, and to more fully articulate the findings, insights and conceptual relevance of these for the dissertation, while making a rather analogue and material BoW alongside.In the BoW 4 tutorial (February 2021), Stromverteilen as site (the transformer station) turned entire work rather than case study and I developed a portfolio where Stromverteilen would house and contain the earlier processes and sites. The extent to which this was straightforward and helped refine further the key processes of drawing/contact and its enquiries (many of these articulated through the Herz/Stein process) but also helped develop a site that was fictitious yet physical, that was accessible and offered routes towards other sites, to dreams from earlier was fascinating. It helped then decide on the autumn works to become four covers to become For Cover as BoW submission, sited and linked in an environmental context and translated also into a digital portfolio that uses audio narration to allow for access, intimacy and some immersion. At the point of module conclusion (at the time limit of 24 months + 6 months extension), there exists a whole series of live drawing processes which I initially had intended to turn towards a final ‘drawing’ for BoW, to encompass the entire site, but which I then realised where actual research processes, the BoW complete with For Covers. I have the sense I needed to test and move further with these drawings to come to the realisation of how Im Walde, Walnut tree and Trafodecken constitute the work and how they can be sited to activate each other, the site and make the objects also accessible for viewers (and perhaps participants).

Draft portfolio for BoW 5

As part of my preparation for Research 4 I populated a padlet that starts with a first encounter of the site of Stromverteilen and then spreads out (towards the bottom right of the site) to encompass different processes, enquiries and experiments to lead to some of the more defined works and series within this BoW. Crucially, I also include some of the textual concepts and experiments here and thus treat moving-with as textual as much as visual and conceptual.

So far the material around Herz/Stein is entirely absent. I am thinking of dropping in small elements either around the mid-diagonal or right across the whole site.

I also note a few other absences (like some of the finished objects and the still remaining large ‘drawing to provide access into the site of Stromverteilen).

I think the processes around the actual transformer station need a bit more around the care and maintenance work (I currently have only some images for this). It feels more substantial, as if that site is centrally engaged in that task.

click on image to visit Stromverteilen padlet

PS: distance (none at all)

as I sit and write the earlier post I seem to be forgetting one key element, I turn left and right, half-trace it, it dissipates again, eventually, I convince myself that it is all there already.

Only, it isn’t: the key condition of working (or perhaps: living) under pandemic conditions, here or in the earlier there, is marked by distance, the total lack of it: all is immediate, all seems an ever-running live feed, I can’t step to the side, pause, rewind. In turn, all becomes now, immediate, what is gone is gone and I barely get to anticipate.

In all previous work the stepping to the side was the key movement, the key move and gesture in order to step up closer again. This side step is gone (while still everything seems to pass by).

This condition of distance jostles for attention as much as the ever-evading module work and the distance of contact restrictions. Trying to give each of them a presence in this body of work is what this second half of the work is concerned with.

The maraprilay padlet was an earlier attempt, so was the distributed distance tracing of absent sketchbooks.

distance/contact (after BoW4)

I stumble upon a note from 14 months ago. I want to post it, it seems so resonant of now, then I find a note that I already did post it, here: https://close-open.net/2019/12/04/distance-proximity-after-res-2/

And when I find the image I immediately remember the loop I did back then before eventually heading back to the pub, after all.

Today, or yesterday, or the past however many months, the note on the same topic reads as follows:

Distance: the module seems to ever evade me, the whole project constantly under threat of slipping away, of me letting it slip away. Of it falling apart under my hands (es zerrinnt mir in den Haenden). I am anxious as the weeks pass that it will never get done. So, all the while the project is so interested in contact and touch, it is the distance that organises it.

In/out of reach as modality to know the project.

(and that an arm’s length is a good measure for closeness is something a colleague offered some time ago also).

It is of course the modality of the pandemic also, and in that the project begun an enquiry, the enquiry shifted, ruptured (like one of those register shifts I set out with? just more violently, more abrupt, entirely not initiated by myself), and I at once wanted to let it be unsettled, wanted to recognise that register shift as significant while also seeking a response that would not simply try to anchor the project in a before, nostalgic state. In doing so, an almost completed project got opened up and out again, my personal circumstances altered by care relations as much as what the pandemic introduced as travel distance and the combination of these proved almost too much for the lightness of touch, of contact that the project had been exploring.

Today I read back over my Research draft and settle down to reorganise it for the third time.

Two December crits: screens and dis/continuity in time/space

I presented (parts of) my autumn works twice late last week and want to write up a few of the comments and insights from these two discussions.

  1. Practice as Research OCA Creative Arts sequence with Rachel Smith
  2. Saturday afternoon crit group

1. Practice as Research OCA Creative Arts sequence took place in session 3 of three weekly sessions (one first meeting and two weeks where three of us presented work each), Rachel, who is also my Research tutor had set up an expansive padlet and prompted with questions (to all of us and individually).

I was glad this sequence came when it came and was keen to use it to review my autumn work and find key points (either new or related to the earlier work). Unsurprisingly there was so much work and I felt I only scratched the surface when trying to review and identify key concepts, resonances and shifts. Yet, the few days spent mid-December with the work and myself (see December reviews 1-3) were enough to articulate something concise and significant enough to seek some feedback.

I chose to focus on the walnut shells and the idea of screens in my work and situated the the shift that happened through Lockdown 1 to my work and how I tried to reorganised the contact restrictions affecting my work, the modality of the work and also what I came to understand as practice in the ensuing months.

Rachel had suggested earlier to invite the participants to consider how they would like to encounter my work, and how to present the work in a world as it wasn’t anticipated to be.

Here are some responses:

  • the shells on the floor and people walk on them, take rubbings, photographs, touch them
  • Small work needs to be touched, mere vision is frustrating
  • Visual work should be much bigger
  • I offer sound as a way of amplifying the work (and realise how I have used sound before to create reach, expansiveness and intimacy in visual work)
  • the V&A has a series of videos for the auto-sensory meridian report (ASMR) where objects are shown with tiny sounds.
  • I am asked: what do your pictures sound like
  • Larchwood seems out of reach: trying to access something but it remains just out of reach
  • There is a sense of a cocoon (and I offer the earlier walnut cream recipe that was one response to the shells)
  • the intent to ignore on how to present the work online as making art is a way of getting away from the screen.

A few of these already explicitly comment on the screen.

When I consider screen, I don’t primarily think of the monitor or touch screen, i.e. the tools which demarcate digital work. ‘Screen’ instead surfaced rather analogue in my work as describe in an earlier post.

Yet, of course, it also marks the transition between analogue and digital.

A few more comments on this from the discussion:

  • Screen as standing for the piece of paper between me and the object; paper and screen may function similar; in audience experience it may in fact stand between you and the (art) object
  • Screen as enabler and barrier under contact restrictions and the need to constantly negotiate new conditions

A closing comment from Rachel concerned how my work is interested in materially manifesting spaces, which can take different forms, but such negotiation is crucial for making sure that the work is able to do what it can (and/or I’d like it to).

2. I sent my Saturday afternoon crit group that meets four-weekly, and I joined in Summer, a revised version of the padlet Chris and I made in our DIY summer school, along with my question about screens (the Larchwood sequence). I wasn’t sure there was going to be time, but the work we discussed resonated easily with mine and so there was quite a bit of time. The feedback I received was generous and encouraging. It concerned the expansiveness of the time I printed across autumn, the tenderness of the images; that one of the group was concerned of entering my work as they worried they may fall off. The latter was huge to hear: a persistent thread concerns the opening, stepping down, off, inside, elsewhere. For the larchwood: of whether you can get lost in the woods that I printed so modestly. To hear, unprompted that one can was a considerable compliment. Furthermore, in the walnut shells, along with the woods was a process of stripping away, boiling things down to foundations, if not essence: to get inside with various means (and without obvious success), it also raises the longing mentioned the day before.

Placing Larchwood alongside some of the summer school work was interesting (and new), and one comment insightfully drew the link to some of the performative work, notable, the video with my hand on my chest and breathing, this video marking a punctuation as it featured solely my hands, while much else constituted a result of what my hands were doing. Time, in this also has become the object of the enquiry (and relates to earlier thoughts that in the staircase work was not so much nostalgia but a particular working with memory, which stopped due to the lockdown and than all new work took place outside).

There were a number of further comments concerning the screen:

  • the role of screen for the cyanotype printing process
  • the screen as grid-like device. How can you subvert it successfully? The attraction and failure of the grid, if you are not careful you simply enter a computer game or a generic virtual exhibition space with such grid

This was the first time to present some work in such depth but also to use the discussion to explore some of the conceptual connections. As I said in the OCA workshop: one of the difficulties of the pandemic, and the move to Germany, concerns the inability to step outside, to review, zoom out, reflect on what is what, instead, the immediacy of an ever unfolding situation seems to enforce a pace and speed that is difficult to navigate.

There is plenty in that screen and its role. I am not sure how much this takes me away from the drawing/contact interest or if it’s part of it. My hunch at the moment is that it is the latter, a new condition, added to what were ‘simple’ encounters initially and these got complicated (but of course the condition of screen, kaleidoscope etc is not as such a condition of the pandemic, it however became more visible, significant).

I think what I am still trying to figure out is how much the original enquiry needs to shift and how much can become an appendix, a bookmark for the future.

Thanks everyone for their thoughts, comments and time — I haven’t named anyone from the two meetings.

December review (3): the sketchbooks > drawing/contact portfolios

What is drawing/contact now (after nine months pandemic, after nine months pausing and after not just one (pandemic) but two shifts in site/practice (relocating temporarily and suddenly to Germany)?

What do I understand about it (better than in March)?

How can I re/present it?

  • Relational space
  • Recording
  • Translating
  • Shifting/remaining

At the BoW tutorial 3 (December 2019) a key task was to explore how to lift the material off the various sketchbook (physical, digital (IG and FB) and camera roll).

I realise this task remains the same, and currently plan to revisit the various drawing encounters across the two years and try to work each of them as a loose sheet portfolio. The idea is to arrive at about 7-12 such portfolios, with unique material for each encounter and a series of works (multiples, some originals) that stretch across and mark my understanding of key aspects of this work/practice.

For these, the bigger works of the autumn will act as screen and constructed site, so that the entire body of work functions across different scales and forms of intimacy: dropping into handling collections such as these portfolios (alongside Herz/Stein and Drei Nuesse) while sited within the bigger installations of Larchwood, Trafodecke and Walnut Tree of Touch.

December review (2): siting/practice

The dissertation draft and notable tutorial 3 (Research) notes give details of the Body of Work as it was envisaged early in the year.

The intervening months have added further work and allowed for some reflection of how the work is organised, structured.

I made a series of notes for how to revise and update the dissertation structure (and thus what would fold into the body of work) in the absence of the stair:case as site for the work (and exhibition).

The relocation to Germany in September added a further rupture and I have now begun to explore the work that I have been making since and how this work relates.

I seem to return to orientating the work (practice/research) around practice and site.

Original conception (March 2020)

Initially, Herz/Stein was a series of works that would move across the three ‘sites’:

  • verge/weed
  • stair:case
  • drawing|encounter

— of these, only the staircase is strictly a site, verge/weed is a movement practice (somewhat linear but also discontinuous); drawing|encounter is a relational practice but each sited in particular locations.

There are a number of reasons why I still want to call these sites, and also don’t consider them places >> I will return to this later, the discussion around stage/screen has made this clearer to me, it has to do with the manipulation, the deliberate handling of what makes the context of each piece, encounter; it also has to do with modularity, discreteness of each piece, that it is specific, originating in a particulate location/time/relation/material but does not bear the entire history and weight of what we want to consider as place; it is, possibly contentiously more modern than that; and then in its encounter and presenting thoroughly post-, yet again.

Covid Loop revision (August 2020)

To amend the quadrants of the glossary to include also:

verge/weed and stair:case as sites

and

Herz/Stein and Maraprilay as practice

December revision (December 2020)

I now add

Stromverteilen as site, and

Drei Nuesse/ Tree of touch as practice.

(there remains an omission that the first site is arguable the pontoon bridge in Northern Greece)

I then continue to wonder if drawing/contact can be reconsidered as practice/site or site/practice.

Herz/Stein and Drei Nuesse are the most material, tactile works: they are effectively handling collections or enquiries that result from touch.

Using the space I hired for a week to review the work, I lay out the four works and discover that they all organise a site, a screen, a stage for the smaller work to organise within. They create space, they remake the sites in a space all by themselves and it is within this space that the practice of Herz/Stein and Drei Nuesse can unfold, along with a series of portfolios that activate the sketchbook materials, quite possibly around a series of drawing/encounters as initially started in Spring 2019.

December review (1): screens in my work

I signed up for a few workshop over the past couple of months. The Moving Image one, a continuation (3-part) of Creative Arts Practice Research with my Research tutor another.

For the latter, I am going to offer some of my work for discussion. So I want to write a few survey posts to begin to articulate where two shifts since the material entered lockdown at the start of Maraprilay have led me to.

This one concerns the emerging body of work that I have been working on for the past few months since I arrived unexpectedly, and stayed similarly so, at the village of my teenage years.

I will discuss the works themselves in other posts (Larchwood, Walnut Tree of Touch and Drei Nüsse). At the moment I am interested in how three of these works (Larchwood, Walnut Tree of Touch and Trafodecke (transformer blanket) all work with the concept of screen, and what this concept may do for my work.

a. the staircase and other dreamscapes > utopian/ other space as screen

The biggest rupture to my work was when the Spring lockdown moved the site of the staircase out of reach. The work was not far off concluding, yet, after four weeks in February/March of being mostly out of reach due to industrial action, the site was effectively not concluded. I had gathered a wealth of material but the insights remained somewhat off. The lockdown was sharp and painful and with the site having become inaccessible the project seemed failed: the rupture added such a stark emotional register to otherwise so tender work that it felt impossible to continue to work with the site at a distance. This eventually led me to pause (after it was clear that even access in autumn seemed unrealistic, the Scottish Government’s covid plan needed zero covid to open sites like this one to random visitors like me).

At some point in May I begun to cautiously revisit the thematic and the site at distance – it had originated in a night dream, and I used the surreal nature of the pandemic to actively explore the dream components further, to continue to dream into the site and its inhabitants and themes. This yielded a number of insides, if not material. It crucially also opened the link again that hovers in the background of this (and other) work: that of a different, utopian space that lives just adjacent to the functional, institutional spaces such as Corridor and stair:case.

I also realised that my work functions closely along an unfolding present, that it is not interested in memory and nostalgia but also not vastly future-oriented but traces different temporalities as they tag closely along an experiential present. It is something that emerged first when I visited the Warhol show in Manchester in late 2016 (during Digital Image and Culture) and it keeps resurfacing. The limitations of the pandemic made it very apparent to me: I didn’t merely want to remember that site nor fantasise about its future. The material I had gathered as present/presence was insufficient to conclude, detach for the purpose of finalising the project.

b. Kaleidoscopes/ peripheral vision > a first actual screen

I have a strand of materials and enquiries which concerns ways of perceiving and seeing: kaleidoscopes and peripheral vision were the objects I previously investigated. Rarely did I do so centrally, but a curiosity as to folding in, manipulating visual planes (not just the edges but the patterning, the core organisation of observed to represented planes) remained. I also continued to try to secure, fix, chase the objects at the margin of my vision, tracing/chasing how horizon lines would bent at the corner of my eye.

In summer 2020 I conducted a self-organised summer school with my friend and colleague Chris and ended up pursuing an eventually failed attempt to reorganise one of the core practices of drawing/contact, the Herz/Stein series, which had led me to a series of stones that I covered in string and also rubber bands. The latter had disintegrated and I ended up photographing an aftermath, printed this and cut into hundreds of squares to reorganise. The process as such as failing: it didn’t yield anything for the Herz/Stein enquiry. But towards the end I realised that I was interested in creating a screen, a stage to let events unfold and document in front of.

Concluding image of summer school process

Revisiting the screen of the summer school now, I realise that it is in fact two part: the viewfinder meets the screen in the distance, opening and focusing the view on the space between finder and screen surface. I have some video attempts of situating a movement of the Herz/Stein bound stone objects on a string between these two.

c. Screen/stage as artificial site for drawing/contact practices

My current hunch is that the previous experiments lead me to an invitation to create a site in the absence of accessible sites. They also affirm for me that ‘site’ rather than ‘place’ is a key concept here: it is constituted, made, shifted, translated from a whole range of sensory observations and experiences. It is made and then a series of enquiries happen in front of it (or perhaps juxtaposed, adjacent, behind?)

A plaything of shells in front of larchwood print

Research 3: Gathering Data: Tutor report

The tutorial for this assignment took place soon after submission and just as pandemic lockdown was taking hold. My social life had quietened in its analogue form and the distance modality was pushing hard on the laptop camera and microphone.

It was quite a special experience to have this tutorial and discuss this subject, which is entirely not concerned with epidemiology nor actually science, in the context of what is unfolding around us.

The tutorial, its discussions and insights sat as excess in a world that had begun to get stilled (with some anxious twitches).

I spent some time transcribing much of the tutorial recording and it’s the longest report I compiled: it talks through the exhibition objects and the research findings along with with the padlets and case studies that I had submitted. It also spends considerably time unpicking the research objects that this module is generating too.

I am including one segment of the discussion, towards the end of the tutorial which tries to conceptualises what the case studies are attempted and how these can feed back into the dissertation process:

Are the three padlets related? Do you see a line, a link across the three?

There is something, and that goes back to the glossary form. I changed the glossary in the sense that each quadrant of the glossary addresses a part of the dissertation and there is a narrative in how each quadrant unfolds.

There a question of geography and scale across the three padlets:

  • (a)  The staircase is a traditional, definite site in how it is delineated. I use the site then to step into a fantasy, into a dream space. So while it’s the most physical site it is also the one that moves most clearly into fantasy.
  • (b)  The verge/weed has a geography to it, slightly more dispersed and yet it works along a line. Each of the processes hover along a path and the side to that path.
  • (c)  The four events, drawing/contact are most abstract, almost purely event- based, almost just the relational aspect between myself and somebody else.

— There is probably more in it but this is first off: they operate on different scales. There is a fourth strand, the Herz/Stein which sits across the entire Research; there are in total four quadrants in the Glossary and four series (three of the latter currently have a padlet).When I talk about the quadrants. The one on the right is methodology; the middle ones are empirical, the top one is theory, the bottom one are the objects; the one on the left are the concepts that I enact and explore.

With the case studies plus Herz/Stein as four series, they don’t quite that easily map across the four quadrants.AP: to write a usage instruction for the glossary as note underneath it (37:00)

The glossary can function as a descriptive way into the work, and a potentially great way of using a glossary. It is important to go back and frame that glossary.

I did this for a PK ‒ I have done quite a few PKs over the year to explore the work ‒ and this PK has an illustration for this on a series of slides.

AP: to explore the relationship of each series to the glossary: what are they and where are the gaps? The spaces inbetween the screen tabs and how you visualise or articulate those connections across.

— I didn’t expect to be able to discuss the forms of writing that are new to me, strike me as innovative, and it’s fantastic to be able to do that in these tutorials. To be able to discuss the writing as if they were art, is immensely useful. I address the glossary items in the dissertation but not as glossary. This, above, will be a way to do so. I will take the glossary and the padlets as art objects and explore them as objects, their relationship and what they fall short of for Research. Rachel returns to a discussion from last time about tracing paper and things being seen through tracing paper and to explore the layering between and across them. There is something in the idea of layering things on to each other, those three padlets and the glossary quadrants and how they function as layers on top of each other and how to move about. I know how to enact these processes with art objects, with drawings, I will explore this process for the glossary and padlets. Doing the review in January, February was really positive as it showed me how the review creates new objects. To push that process a bit further still on the basis of the padlets and glossary, to feed these into the process and see what they generate. I will have my planetary system like this, effortlessly, or an appendix.

— It will also clarify the extent to which my implicit complexity needs other forms of clarity or forms of entry to be accessible in the way that I would like these to function as objects and to be quite deliberate about these.

Rachel suggests that this is important, going back to the opening of the tutorial and ongoing events: that there is material and insights that this work is able to offer and that it should offer. It is important to explore those entry points so that different types of people can access what you are doing.

I am attaching the full tutor report: Gesa Helms 492645 A3

 

concept maps: touch/contact/body in movement (revisited)

I go back to the concept maps right at the start of the course, put them up on the wall and then take little tours through them. I find three so far:

 

1 touch

i take a little tour across and through my living room wall and the concept maps i made a year ago. their format does neither photograph well nor did it display easily otherwise, so i forgot what i had been doing. touch was map #1, they got less textual, more spacious as i went along.
i of course delight at touché, tocarse, out of touch. google doesn’t translate the pleasure that lives in the middle.
bebopalubop it quietly hums before it moves a little upwards and out of touch. touché. (it possibly touches the ceiling now.)

 

2 contact

:: and for contact. (i had forgotten about the transmission but delighted to find the precursor of ωθήσατε in here already and of course: Ursula Le Guin… i wonder if i thought of anything specific, did i?)

 

3 body in movement

:: body in movement (map #3) is more graphic, less wordy.
site is a graphite smear, i have some misconceptions about audience, ask about the tool as drawing (and find this in some of the autumn things); there is a resonance field which i will keep:

site/event in drawing/contact, January 2020

 

(this clip is the outcome of 18 months trying to get the video clips in a PPT to transfer as videos in export to .mov in Powerpoint for Mac). I have some notes on the process, which I will use too.

But first: the most recent pecha kucha (no narration) from my materials. This one for a brief introduction to my research/body of work for a first hangout with other L3 people across different disciplines.

body of work (3): synthesise: tutor report

I have a video tutorial for BoW (3) just before the holidays. Here is the report for it.

I took some time to let it sink in a little further: part of me wanted a clear steer of: this works, this doesn’t. I didn’t get that. What I got instead is a clear discussion of what constitutes my practice and how to proceed with that knowledge. The tutorial also returned to me the idea of rawness, directness, that I thought I had lost with the meek performative processes I had set in motion. It also moves, with the idea of a mobile, the satellite objects of work from the Research 2 tutorial into the actual work itself.

A good 2020 lies ahead. Hello, November assessment.

Here a brief overview of the topics discussed, see the report for full notes:

That Research articulates in its handbook effectively a social science dissertation project has helped to push me towards investigating research as practice and I find that I am in a productive process of making such research as practice. [During the tutorial this seemed to hover somewhat: I come away thinking of the dangers of merely employing creative methods for a social science project; much later I realise that this tension is productive and at the heart of what I am exploring as expanded field of drawing and a creative practice therein.]

There are four main fields of discussion for this tutorial:

  • What and who can I lean on for making work, i.e.: what is a productive context?
  • What constitutes the work/ practice?
  • What is the framework, or, as I name it as ‘animating principle’ that underpins and organises the work. Doug moves to call it cosmology.
  • What relationship am I forming with the viewer/ audience?

 

Gesa_Helms_of_Creative_Arts_L3_ BoW_Part_3_

BoW 3: synthesise :: reflection

Let me reflect: the challenge to move 4.5 months of work into a 1-hour slot. I feel the distance of this course this time more so than before. I am glad I did have a repeat task from Research 2 at this point and merely need to update.

I feel my work process is productive and generative; I can also narrate and explore this to others by now. I had one session last week where I folded the bannister on top of the staircase into another sketchbook while a meeting finished, people moved past. It remained okay to continue with the folding, only at one point I felt wondering if the work was insignificant. This was a key question for BoW 2, it lies with the subject matter and I have by now found ways to hold that and fold it back into the work.

I am surprised how many insights this process generates and what I am finding about drawing/contact and near space, and what other concepts are relevant to this.

By the time I had Research 2 tutorial I had dealt with my frustrations over the L3 challenges, they haven’t yet resurfaced and it seems fairly clear what lies ahead. I am enjoying the process of making work at this edge of an extended drawing practice, and wonder what my geographer is making of all this (I have ideas for a couple of research papers coming out of this, I find I am generating significant things in this process, but: is it good art?).

The material processes (mouldings) I am engaging in feel significant and exciting but I worry that they are merely basic sculptural techniques and not significant enough for what I am doing (see, significance). I had not expected to use photographic processes to the extent that I do, (both: phone and MF analogue); there are a series of traditional drawing processes and larger scale drawings that I want to produce as part of this too, I keep pushing them forward.

What is exciting in this process is that I begin to become confident with how to conceive and produce a complex and extended body of work: this work is fragmented, disparate, dislocated and to find a form to hold it and make it relate (with gaps, absences) to itself and others is becoming clearer to me — It is like understanding how books I love, e.g. Bhanu Kapil’s Ban en banlieue were actually made, something I begun to investigate for the line (in DI&C) but now have a better grasp.

I was planning on continuing with BoW 4 before turning to Research 3, and analysing all the material post-fact, but I wonder if I should work on Res 3 while doing BoW4 to have time to let them inform each other more fully.

 

body of work (3): synthesise

— okay, then. this single post contains the materials submitted as part of BoW (3): synthesise. It’s a bit of a challenge but let me try. it presents roughly four and a half months of work; I did a considerable review already as part of Research 2 in late October, and am glad I did so, as I have a series of sites (sketchbook, FB, here and notably evernote) which collect and collate. I feel I am very much in the middle of things, have started and pursued a series of routes around drawing/contact and while it’s time to step back and review/refine/focus, this feels quite a task.

This post mainly organises four parts:

  1. a series of projects and enquiries
  2. questions concerning the holding* form/ container of the overall body of work of L3
  3. a link to wider sketchbook and annotating materials
  4. a link to the more conceptual research questions and themes which link BoW with Research

 

1. Series of projects and enquiries

I am copying my notes on BoW here that I included as part of Research 2 and update them accordingly to offer a fuller and more up to date view of BoW.

Practically, I set out to pursue a programme around drawing/contact in a series of investigations:

a. drawing/performance enquiries which are mainly focused on the self; and

b. drawing/performance enquiries which are small scale, intimate and perhaps simply
1:1, either scripted and more formal or more spontaneous in nature.
By focusing on different self/audience parameters I seek to investigate the forms of contact, presence/absence in the kinds of near spaces that are productive and produced in drawing/performance, and, as a second step, explore them in a series of adjacent media and forms, folding forward and onward (Bedford, Schneider, Lepecki, all 2012).

c. I intent to attend to the recording and further circulation of these in the dissertation essay as well as possibly also a different form, perhaps as an audio-visual essay, a moving image collage or an artist publication.

Following on from BoW 2 in late July, the first questions for a work programme for part 3 concerned:

  • What constitutes source material and subject matter for this project? (see the two blog posts from 28 July and 4 August on each)

https://close-open.net/2019/08/04/tutorial-reflections-1-what-is-source-material/

https://close-open.net/2019/07/28/critical-reflection-modality-of-bow/

  • How are medium and material shifts achieved in these drawing/contact performances and events?

Following the investigation of what was source material I attended to my lens-based records and begun to read them as source material also, exploring them for a few short presentations along the ideas of contact/ moving-with and agency (human/non-human).

A series which begun half-articulated in June concerning the wild verges along a path and lochside location became articulated in a MF camera series to explore proximity, nearness and camera/viewer position in this context. There are, roughly, two substantive themes in here:

  • moving-with: edges, agency and transgressions

https://close-open.net/2019/07/30/sketchbook-thisconnection-as-bridge/

https://close-open.net/2019/07/29/site-the-bridge-of-ag-achilleios/

https://close-open.net/2019/08/02/sketchbook-2-12-ko-loop-edit/

  • verge/weed (and a variety of investigations)

https://close-open.net/2019/08/25/i-catch-late-and-early-sun-on-a-couple-of-rolls-each/

Verge/weed (narrow field) (first version)

One theme that did emerge rather strongly (and which I actively pursued further through my involvement with the Art/Environment group) is that of the environmental within it, the non- human, the relationships within/across.
In all this, there was still a sense of failure, or rather: a curiosity why the idea of intimacy and performance remained so difficult; and why in turn the subject matter seemed fleeting, small and inconsequential.

https://close-open.net/2019/10/19/absence-in-drawing-contact/

The idea of nearness and proximity came also into focus in a series of further investigations (these build on the earlier proposed drawing/contact events that formed the focus in BoW 2):

a. Herz/stein

The thin-papered book formats which developed out of two interests. Firstly, the visual see-through of my sketchbooks, the idea that material, notes in proximity to each other bleed and shine through. And, secondly, the hesitancy to make explicit some of the more intimate observations and events and to be curious if they can be narrated as flicker book (if not graphic novel) to make them present without explicating too much.

Herz/Stein:: flicker/tracing books

b. peripheral vision in close-up

So much of traditional visual art is premised on the illusion of space that it creates. Here, crucially, distance is a key function: if we move too close to an object, the conventions of perspective expose themselves as the artificial thinking device that they are and we discover our eyes ’seeing’ in rather different ways. I wanted to explore this by stepping in and close and trying to trace thereby myself amongst it (the distance denotes by the curves my peripheral vision produces).

marginal vision (or: is this peripheral?)

c. stepping into the verge: touching

Eventually, I devised a series of small, solo, then 1:1 moving-with performances to record. Over a few days I stepped into the verge, walked towards and reached out to a single apple, then had my dad observe me doing the latter and us to pick some apples further out of reach still and lastly, a plan to walk across recently fallen walnuts turned the stepping out/ across into a horizontal reach of each of us dislodging walnuts.

https://close-open.net/2019/10/19/d-c-event-walnut-gravity-support/

d. Die Luke

It started primarily as a case study/ site to explore and pursue a complex set of spatial dynamics. I took and take various positions and draw, observe, but also chat and gossip. The enquiry is one of routes, movements across a complex set of institutional stairs and pathways. It seeks openings and has begun to investigate the objects within the staircase, notably: bannister and radiator. I have a strong sense of what further investigations are relevant here, and how the spatial construct may also operate as a framing device for the overall work itself (routes/alternatives/positions). There are ideas for a participatory zine interaction with those who move through this space.

Die Luke (first take)

Die Luke (hatch):: zine/process idea

Interestingly, it also served as an easy site to investigate materiality/shifts and contact: I took a series of mouldings and rubbings of materials, attempted to transfer the structural features into my sketchbook.

ban/n/ister (two parts)

phone, encased

e. Kaleidoscopes

An early observation and digital plaything last winter recurred and became a point of investigation of viewpoint, paper folding, and limited inside/outside vision. I developed this further to provide a simple instruction for an open participatory performance, and hope to expand on this.

kaleidoscope / revisited

Kaleidoscope:: participatory process

2. Holding* form/ container: what animates and holds this overall body of work

Possibly quite close to the early question as to who is audience, what is the relationship to the audience, this question of how this extended body of work can be held (and presented) has remained throughout the project and it was one concern that became a little clearer during this part.

I am proposing to use a dream fragment and its complex spatial arrangements and movements as a loose framework to orientate the materials. In my mind, this sits conceptually well with ideas about near space, contact but also a seeking of alternatives, other spaces within this work.

Practically, I am not sure yet what this means, there are still a series of processes than I want to test that can practically perform such role (GIS, excel spreadsheets, geolocation).

This post explores these question more fully to the point that I have reached so far:

holding* / form

3. Sketchbooks (here and elsewhere)

Following on from D2, I had set up this L3 work more fully at the start to encompass the range of materials and sites that constitute my working materials and practices now.

I feel fairly confident that the material included on the blog under the sketchbook tag gives a good view over both range and depth of my working process.

Furthermore, there are extensive visual and textual notes assembled in Photos, evernote,  and sketchbook and FB, these in themselves also form small series and investigations, I haven’t pulled them together for this assignment (as I didn’t do with the moving image materials, part of which I presented as various PKs for small group crits) — I feel this material is there, it’s productive and needs some investigation.

I also have fairly extended notes on evernote for each project/enquiry of BoW. For my lens-based materials, I have been using Photos rather than Lightroom as catalogue. I only work with Lr or Ps at the point of post-processing.

Screenshot 2019-12-16 at 12.04.27

Screenshot 2019-12-08 at 17.13.05Screenshot 2019-12-08 at 17.11.39Screenshot 2019-12-08 at 17.11.25

4. Critical reflections and linking to Research questions

For Research 2 and now for BoW 3 I revisited the concept map for the overall project, the questions around my theme have been tested to a considerable extent and are to be developed further beyond the next BoW assignment. This material will then in turn provide the research material and data for Res 3.

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Furthermore, I created for Research 2 a list of items for a glossary:

Screenshot 2019-10-26 at 21.06.07

In reviewing for this submission the materials and processes that are gathering, I begin to have a strong sense of the questions this work investigates and drawings that it produces.

The themes for these will be more fully investigated as part of Research 3 and 4, but I want to list them here now:

  • material and register shifts (between and across analogue and digital);
  • smallness of things;
  • peripheral (vision)*;
  • moving-with as the process;
  • and near space.

 

As part of this submission I am asked to outline ambitions and work plan for the remainder of BoW. This post attempts to do so.

Finally, this post reflects on the submitted assignment.

 

holding* / form

A container (!) post to trace the outer edges of this extended BoW.

The notion of excess, abundance is part of this work (and rose most clearly so far in the discussion with my Research tutor). Here, the written dissertation incorporates forms of glossary, appendix, additional materials, see Res report 2. A current phrase is satellite objects of the work.

In BoW this has arisen at points over conclusion and presentation: how does this work sit and enact a publicness. Much of this will be eventually resolved in SYP, yet: for BoW this remains relevant as it concerns site and access of the work and more conceptually: the internal mechanics, the animation, the organising forms of it.

An early concept was that of assemblage (raised in BoW tutorial 1); I hold it for a while, it is right in terms of the looseness, openness it suggests. I hesitate as it pushes the work firmly within Actor-Network-Theory and for my academic self the concept is too heavily laden already.

In this line of thought I remember how I conceived of the dialectics in my PhD work as internal relations and a fragmented and contradictory totality. Settling and explicating the latter was significant. It is too academic for what I am after now, and I also don’t want to get embroiled in quite such an extent in historical/critical materialist debates.

The concept maps from last winter explore much of this and are due an update. I also have a series of posts and notes that address a holding form in practice, some assembled in this earlier post.

I have the sense that the dream construction which led me to the staircase as case study site is a good organising frame. It is complex, open, it moves, it denotes an elsewhere, it allows me to drop various project strands and investigations into it. It is animated.

I use as concept for this set of questions for the body of work the tag of ‘holding’; holding space or creating a container for a work to take place within is a concept I use in my facilitation practice. It may be a gesture, pose and practice that can be utilised for this work (container, in turn, is too rigid, too closed as concept).

— I don’t feel I need to clarify much further yet. There are a series of investigations about to start, and to continue, which will clarify and test this aspect further: investigating excel/GIS as relational practice across analogue/digital; exploring geolocation a bit further as to how it can link and envision various sites on/offline (imaginary, experienced, conceived) and further work in the staircase itself.

marginal vision (or: is this peripheral?)

Gesa Helms added a new photo.
27 September at 12:38 ·
— with marginal success i am trying to catch the corner of my vision. then i look up and find some above plaster electrics while waiting, far more pliable
(later, the next page, it rained and my tight corner sheltered me but not the page. the rain bled through and now catches the overhead lighting)

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Sam  trying to draw perspective at close up.
It was Ellen who first raised this issue in the stacked chair exercise.

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13/11
This remains demanding, and there are a few drawings from the staircase that attempt this. I tire very quickly and can’t quite concentrate. But I guess that is the nature of this and I wonder where sticking with this insight for a bit longer may take me?

Picture 6.png

Picture 7.png

[insert sketches]

18/11
The issue of tiredness remains. On Friday last week, I abandon the idea to do more work (again) and instead hang. Today, I almost don’t go, then start to walk and notice the pain in my knee and go to the coffeeshop instead. I write it in my list, today:

d. i tire everytime my sketchbook takes its positions. i know this tiredness. either i am going to get sparkles soon or i may be pushing too hard.
e. i want sparkles but on the off-chance that it is the latter, i retreat.

— so, part of the tiredness may relate to the whole setting (institutional) as much as to the peripheral vision task. It can be either edge or too much pressure. It concerns questions of wholeness and holeness… There is something interesting happening here in terms of material/ spatial shifting: the peripheral vision seems to indicate an ‘almost there’ which can also be utopian in constitution. I wonder if the GIS/ excel approach may yield something here.

Three wagging dog tails, just observed:

Picture 1.png

Picture 2.png

Picture 3.png


6/12

IMG_1247.jpeg

IMG_1246.jpeg

Ambition/ Onwards (as part of BoW 3)

I am in the middle of things and things are good. Turning seriously towards BoW and not worrying too much about Research a couple of months ago was a good decision and definitely addressed some of my concerns around Level 3.

For the past fortnight I have begun to draw together the various strands of work that are part of BoW 3 and effectively present a live and ongoing research lab. They are not completed, and this is what is keeping me from closing and submitting the next assignment. I am confident I have plenty of work that works and that supports my aims with this Body of Work. I feel also really strongly the pull to keep folding onwards.

So, the coursework wants a review of my ambition and workplan for the remaining two assignments. I am a bit hesitant to do that in a detailed way but, I want to use this post to articulate that what I already know about the BoW and want I want to aim for until the conclusion of the module.

My plan is to complete Research and Body of Work in early summer, ready for submission for the November assessment; and to complete SYP for the March 2021 assessment event.

I would first and foremost want this work to exist in a variegated, expanded form that holds both in analogue and digital a series of investigations into the constitution of near space in the context of drawing/ contact. With drawing/contact I identify medium (expanded field of drawing) and modality (small-scale, intimate, interested in the relational constitution of such spaces).

There are five themes that unpack from this aim:

  • material and register shifts (between and across analogue and digital);
  • smallness of things;
  • peripheral (vision)*;
  • moving-with as the process;
  • and near space.

I reviewed the state of BoW before submitting Res 2 in late October, and updated and expanded this for this current submission.

*I add as fifth, and yet: maybe it sits below; it also isn’t entirely about vision: it’s about position and relationship between things, possibly the point at which a heuristic device (this time: perspective in vision) is unravelled as that: a device, a construct, while the actual experience is a different one.

Some of the work has by now a clear sense of form to it (notably: the MF images of verge/weed); others have emerging and shifting formats (two participatory projects involving zine-type exchanges, Kaleidoscope and Die Luke (Hatch)); the Herz/Stein flicker/process books; and the earlier events around drawing/contacts have a series of expressions also. Besides this, a whole number of objects and processes begun to emerge that are ready to become part of something larger.

I have also begun to explore the forms and formats of assemblage, holding form for the overall form (and would like to make this part of the discussion for the tutorial of BoW 3).

I am not submitting a revised concept map for BoW but on revisiting the version from July 2019, I discover that I am right at the centre of exploring the substantive question on the right hand side of the map and have a series of processes and projects that fill in the medium/ format questions of the top left. I hadn’t revisited the map for some time and it was exciting to see just how far the enquiry is live and maturing (and will be the subject of Research 3).

I have begun to investigate more seriously the idea of material and register shifts and want to expand this further to include also:

  • MF imagery in b/w
  • typewriter
  • more considered photocopier drawings from sketchbooks etc.
  • Kaleidoscope and Die Luke as participatory/ performative events
  • possibly a group performance/event
  • a series of drawings at different scales originating from d/c events
  • excel spreadsheets and relational tables in GIS (to articulate across geographical spaces and sketchbooks, written formats)
  • any on-site/ locational means of linking geographical spaces and digital means?

– The last two of these already concern the wider question of presentational form and the connections/ relationships between different spatial constructs on/offline and what happens in their production.

These then also relate to the attempt to explore the role of dream and/or utopian spaces in this work.

Quite a few of these directly link to Research and most of the investigations that I undertake in BoW are directly relevant to how the empirical part of Research is constituted.

The medium/ form question that possibly sits most across the two modules is the role of writing/ listing/ annotating as medium. There is a whole set of notes and some more developed pieces of short writing that I consider part of BoW but they also can become part of Research (notably, the discussions of satellite objects of the dissertation, the role of the glossary, an appendix or similar are relevant here)

distance/proximity (after Res 2)

18/11

The tiredness when approaching the staircase seems to indicate an edge. I go often, then divert, pause, gather perspective, go or don’t go. Divert.

Sometimes, when I go I am fascinated by the openness of my discoveries.

The fallen ceiling seems to change things. It is so complex and elaborate. Both in what it reveals about the construction age and method of the once ceiling. But also as to how to safeguard the site and the passers-by.

It seems to want to take its own place within this.

I giggle when I realise that M had been talking about his fear of replication: of the halogen ceiling light and various cracks across. And, above all, L was away and would be no help.

The tiredness seems method. As much as the failure in the peripheral vision is.

Are there places where I cannot stand? That I cannot take.

 

Black heat

White heat

 

The tiredness follows me here too.

I feel it. I can actually see it with my eyes struggling to focus.

That edge of the site has bled into my physical ageing process.

I am becoming that edge.

 

And so does the peripheral vision

It is the moment when I catch myself chasing thoughts and scenarios, so vividly and then so utterly out of reach.

It is a process I have known all my life. That inbetween waking and sleeping space where I and all seems to be altogether different. It is so present and yet also always just out of reach.

 

Sometimes we trick ourselves into recognising each other.

 

Depositing scraps is one way of approaching this.

The other is not paying attention at all

(until it comes to you)

And if you ignore it further still it will eventually shout right at your face.

In full view.

 

The various sites of scrap

Here

Facebook

little inlay

messenger

whatsapp

wordpress

Instagram

email

sketchbook

 

Here: inside different notes and notebooks. don’t miss a single one.

 

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Research 2: tutor report

Here the notes about the second Research tutorial (the submission material and reflection are in these posts).

The tutorial started with and addressed some of the concerns I had about the research module, usefully at a point when I practically had also moved to resolve the frustrations by making work.

I include the key substantive points of the discussion here, there full report is attached.

The glossary: satellite objects
From this we quickly turned towards the glossary as vehicle and the field it opens out and up. So, the glossary in its terms but also in how it potentially relates to the visual material offers an important and exciting route into exploring nearness, distance and contact. At the same time, the glossary is (at least initially) additional to the academic text of the dissertation, is an appendix.
Rachel begun talking about it as satellite objects to the dissertation text and to then use the requirements of the dissertation to facilitate a (written) ‘body of work’ that consists of a series of other objects. This would at once fulfil the rules, address the institutional requirements but also allow to break them.
In doing so it also at once, exhibits some of the key methodology of the whole work itself: of how to pull things close and also let them go or push them away.
We talked about Laure Prouvost’s Legsicon, Katrina Palmer’s Endmatter and how there are a variety of ways of how my different materials can become a glossary, including the photos, links to texts and other things.
Rachel then mentioned Janet Cardiff’s audio walks (on entirely different subject matter) for the work to be encountered within and outside the gallery.

Relational tables within GIS and the links between analogue/digital
The second main substantive part of the tutorial concerned a meeting I had the day before with a Geography colleague of mine who works with GIS as artistic practice. I had asked to meet with him to consider some of the issues around site, on/offline and connectedness/ fragmentation within the various emerging strands of my BoW. He suggested to explore two things: the relational tables in which GIS stores hierarchical information and thus reorders/ categorises space; and secondly, to explore the ways in which one can draw within an Excel spreadsheet.
I have added the reference and link at the end
I mentioned the usual, fairly straightforward applications of siting and fixing narrative and event within GPS coordinates and that I raised my interest in indexicality (within lens-based practices, but more so around e.g. the work of Anna Barribal) as possibly a better way to explore the connections across (possibly also to consider fleetingness, and the concerns about drawing/contact, in ways the fixing/siting doesn’t generally allow for).

Diagramming my work and its relevant literature
The one thing Rachel would have liked to have seen in my submission are some diagrams about literature and themes. And I realised that, while I have the diagrams about the BoW, the substantive themes, I haven’t expanded these to include the contextual/research work. AP: to do this as part of Research 3
Here, and at other points, the tutorial was inspiring as at times it seemed it provided itself a methodology of how to move within this particular enquiry and the relevant media forms. Rachel mentioned the significance of exploring hybridity and how important it is as contemporary feminist practice of enquiry, and how in turn it then brings with it the difficulty of articulating within a contemporary arts context that still remains media-specific.

Gesa Helms 492645 Research A2

Reflection on Research (2: Theoretical framework)

This post accompanies my submission for Research 2: Theoretical framework.

It’s been about five, almost six months since my previous and first assignment submission for Research. This current one contains an articulation of theory, methodology and form of essay, along with notes on the status of the practical work as well as a literature and resources review.

During those past months I was at times close of walking away from this degree and that is largely due to the nature of the Research module: I find it entirely repetitive, generating lots of material and yet not offering anything in a way of editing the material. Furthermore, it proposes processes of dissertation research which are almost entirely suited for a social science project and only barely make reference to artistic research. I see how it genuinely tries to be helpful in supporting students at this stage, yet the ways it does this: lots of activities, lots of angles, only poorly cohering (what is the relationship between the various bits of writing at ‘exercises’ and the final submission for each of the assignments??) — in this it appears prescriptive and thus entirely limiting: there is throughout a sense that planning takes the place of a creative practice, that constant articulation is the way to evidence one’s academic readiness and thus to pre-empt investigative and creative processes (I understand that part of this is again the limits of a distance-learning degree, another part is due to the wide range of practices coming together in Creative Arts, but the third part: to assume a step-by-step planning process ensures progression is counter-productive for at least half of the students, and a somewhat lazy administrative process currently so in favour in UK HE0.

The advice by my BoW tutor to disregard the coursebook(s) was given early (and in some way how I worked with earlier, similarly limiting coursebooks, notably: Drawing 1 and TAOP). Yet, at this stage this seems not helpful and in the absence of what else, it drops me into a void. — There are afaik five students on this pathway plus myself, three further along, two in earlier parts. Also, by doing two modules concurrently, the contact with each tutor seems distant and hardly present (both tutor and peer interactions were entirely different in Level 2, and these were both, along with two very good coursebooks, the reasons for me to continue).

— This means it takes considerable effort to articulate a way ahead with the dissertation module. I would like to make each stage useful to me and it took me several attempts to do that with the current submission.

At this stage, almost half-way through the current two modules I can see that BoW and the practice investigations drive and animate my work. That my work is theoretically informed and methodologically curious does not distract from the former. In the BoW tutorial in late July we discuss to use BoW 3 as experimentation and research stage: to investigate my key concepts and processes. I did this and this current Research submission is my first point of assembling and stopping to reflect on the content and process of the Creative Work and reflect it back to the initial Research Proposal. For this, the process to get this current submission ready involved the following:

[x]assemble the materials you have so far: create an inventory
[x]write-up of BoW and research within it
        (then check what you had written before)
        (this will form the overview for the ‘findings’ material for later on.)
[x]glossary as focus (Williams, Prouvost, Vourloumis, also: Wu Tsang)
[ ]key literature: expand and focus in from Res 1
So, effectively, much time was spent on assembling a review of the materials of BoW and to reflect back on what I had said a few months ago about the direction and content of this. I enjoyed this process, it was good to do and to reflect on what is possible to experiment with and notably, what remains difficult and fleeting. I also drew out three current investigations to explore the idea of near-space in performance/drawing and feel quite content with having found processes and materials to employ in this process.
My resistance to the Research course material arrives from the fact that I am well used to writing academic materials at an advanced level (for peer-reviewed journals, academic theses etc) — and for a 5k text I need about six weeks not the duration of the course. — I knew this before I started, and having just recently supervised 10k long social science dissertations has brought the difference of instruction to mind. In all this, I want the module and the dissertation to be useful to myself: there is stuff I want to learn in this field, in my writing and in my artistic practice. So, how can I realistically do that in the confines of the course?
The proposed format (creative writing + reflective + traditional, in the words of the coursebook; in my own words: auto-ethnography meets theory fiction meets methodology) is one way to hone and develop my articulation in this field; the investigation of an artistic research process around the themes identified another.
I have mainly resisted at this point to provide a literature review besides the one already included: I am currently working with notes and diagrams and images and reading and feel this is productive; I can write these through for the Draft of Research 4, but don’t want to get embroiled in a discussion over individual sentences in my materials.
Preparing this submission I discover the extent to which I am actually conducting research: the material I generate is of that nature and I am excited by this: it is at once a known process but also new as it concerns a different field, different form of enquiry and I am looking forward to the next stage of Research, the data collection.
I have included a number of links to the BoW material and remembered how useful I found the tutorial of Research 1 on the line, the resulting reading and the understanding of my research process and artistic practice.
The above is a comment on the course direction, it is not one on the tutorial process at all. I know that I can be quite literal with instructions and get frustrated by poor ones before stepping to the side and making them useful for myself. I hope that my submission will facilitate such process and I look forward to the tutorial.
My suggestion is to conduct both BoW 3 (almost ready) and 4 before submitting Research 3 (data) and Research 4 (draft) after that.

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Shop front cover and reflection, Karlkrona, September 2019

towards BoW (3): synthesis

While most of my research takes place elsewhere (again), I am now beginning to pull together the materials from BoW and Research.

The plan is to submit Research 2 before BoW 3. In order to do so, however, I am seeking an inventory of BoW and my investigations that followed from the previous tutorial in late July.

The tasks back then for BoW were as follows:

What is near space, moving-with and drawing/contact
>> testing my assumptions and links
what constitutes source material?
what is contact?
what is small and insignificant?
what is the translation/transfer between media
what is the sensorial?
what is the relationship?
The one of these that has been following me most, is the question of small and insignificant. It sits primarily as criticism of my approach to this project and it returned at every turn. Over the past fortnight, while testing one performative angle I think I finally got hold of it a little better and it became a thing to feed back into the process.
So, let me review and assemble the various investigations for this work and then conclude Res 2, then followed by BoW 3.
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BoW 2 (Gather and Manifest): tutor report

Here is the report from the tutorial from 31 July for part 2 of BoW.

Two items here for reference, the rest in the document below:

Project proposal (if any change) (student)

To refocus towards the attention on process and material shifts rather than taking performance as key to the project.

To explore drawing/contact within the parameters of the methodology that I have already begun to articulate and test and experiment with a view to gain an understanding on:

  • expectations of the work
  • digital and analogue forms of these
  • the types of relationships between objects and the overall container, holding framework, assemblage of the work

Critical Reflection (space to critically reflect on the work across both units) (student)

Role of concepts of near space, site and moving-with to create a terminology to describe a performative action (of drawing in an expanded field)

>> the methodology for the project needs further unpacking and articulating: where does it come from and where does it reach.

>> here the glossary that Rachel suggested for Research is indeed useful (possibly to explore and make connections, to refine – not necessarily to define down) [I am thinking of e.g. Raymond Williams’ Keywords].

BoW then would become the place where I figure out practically what the methodology is for the ideas concerning near space, drawing/contact and moving-with.

Part of my own reflections (and which didn’t come into the report) are here: tutorial reflections 1: what is (source) material?

concept map 2.0 for BoW: drawing/contact and near space

Following submission of BoW A2: gather/manifest, I sat down and revised the concept map that I made for BoW A1. Notably, I have clarified as to what concerns its modality (methodology and artistic practice) and how the concept of near space provides the substantive focus (between drawing as means and contact as intent).

Quite a few aspects are still not articulated but rather loosely grouped together. However, this will serve for the next round of focus but also provides a direction for the next Research assignment and how to achieve a stronger focusing in on key aspects.

Mindmap Theme BoW July 2019

 

critical reflection: modality of BoW

Screenshot 2019-07-28 at 13.33.01
Detail of updated concept map for BoW (July 2019): modality/methodology

As material for the dissertation:

The process of shifting back and forth as the process of the Body of Work and how produces itself and links to the dissertation.
  • the gap pointed to it: what is opened up
  • the photocopier manual, (m)use me, and the parallel project present its practice
  • the line as practice to deal with the social subject matter (and so does: office at night; the corridor work and other green: contact, secrets, gossip)
Katrina Palmer’s Loss Adjuster is good for process and shift
Juliana Spahr’s Army of Lovers, Everyone connected, The transformation as container and focus on new materialism and relationality within
Bhanu Kapil as for fragmentation and moving between different materials.
Joan Jonas and Rosemarie Trockel for holding these togethers (perhaps some like Doris Salcedo too?)
Friedrich Kittler opened the door to this and should be at the heart as conceptual/ methodological question
The smallness and the unimportance as guiding question to judge vis-a-vis artistic canon.

How to trace this through the BoW:

Reworking the concept map from February made some of these processes clearer: what is the how and the what: I had discussed as key outcome/ process a series of performance formats (solo; 1:1; and group) but wonder if that is the process really and if the process is not a tracing, following, pursuing of material shifts and registers; and that performance (through the inclusion of others, and a focus on the body) is merely a format that facilitates that.
In June I collated a few thoughts as to material contact:
clay experiments (following the Bleakeley performance)
darkroom and contact printing
screenprinting again
then: in the sketchbook:
  • the transferral of marks to the next page,
  • the pick up of graphite on previous pages
  • see through/ fold
  • (it is again processes that have intrigued me for a long time; possibly it is the link to indexicality again here that also concerns the interest in the ‘contact’ concern for the wider project)
  • most actual drawings in the sketchbook are 10-15mins pieces while on the bus: layering fleeting views on top of each other, repeating and reworking. I did 12-15 of these over four journeys. They are not about indexicality. Yet, in some sense I feel they are relevant in terms of the drawing marks and in terms of what is connected through the moving through?
I also think the drawing on top of templates/copies is part of this too, and so is much around photocopying; and indeed the work with the typewriter in late March.
As in D2 I find a hesitancy towards material processes, as if they sidetrack me too much. I don’t think that I don’t experiment enough (which was one of the discussions over the material processes in D2), but I think I struggle to explicate or name what I am experimenting with.
As plan for Part 3 I want to focus on the processes themselves and pursue a range of them to explore what kind of register shifts are occurring (and, so my thought: are constitutive of the near space, the contact).

a week on Agios Achilleios as site

For my travels to Greece I made a travel album, which then during the week at the Made of Walking encounters/conference became a research site.

The album is here: τους πελεκάνους μου.

The closing post to the album is this one:

EDIT: my phone browser also misbehaves and forgets to place it into the album 😮
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my browser Fb misbehaves and doesn’t let me post, so let me type this on the phone:
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– i think this post concludes my pelican adventures.
– i think that most of the memory pieces i wanted to place next to each other i have now
– what i realised that i wanted to try was to seek a container to place next to each other a variety of things, meetings, sights and smells that came together in that week in Prespes
– there were two points when i realised that so much was mingling that i wanted to treat it as a field site and become a keen observer with interest:
(a) institutional processes and critique came together with both my inside/outside and my family album work in a site combining several key aspects of what i am concerned with in my work over the past four years
(b) Jen and then others started to talk about my FB posts and placed them offline again; and while not for the first time but for the first time with people who didn’t or hardly knew me, did i have a form in which the different forms of conversation mingled and informed each other;
>> that i was going to talk a few days later on a project which employed these two strands also, was perfect and too good to miss
>> i kind of used this then to make my own project (and sought some links to what is to be my final year work)
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all else from this will sit in my sketchbook album (i add a link below, most of you will have access to it, should you not, drop me a message and i will add you)
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there is something about the (fraught, failing) attempt to build a closed situation, room, site and i am keen to test this for this material. we did discuss in the past a corridor, a Fischli & Weiss machinery, i had dreamt of a world of Ursula Le Guin, a stage with Joan Jonas, Carole referenced Katrina Palmer’s Loss adjuster on Portland, i also think about the space the Sonic Seance show has set up at the CCA currently and bak invites for a training for an otherwise futurity. — many of these will be too ambitious. i think what interests me is as before the leaking and the blurring, the open fuzzy edges and i am pleased to have all the bus journey sketches around Kozani which go some way towards this.
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i also am grateful to have tested the notion of gossip a little further. i have a lot of respect for it. found myself at various turns of the week being made to decide one or another. felt the hot spots of conversations travelling, adjusted some posts, didn’t write others and then on other occasions found myself surprised at what tender things it also was generative of. now with this having passed, i sense acutely the absence of those close and frequent iterations and interactions that made it possible to write like that. now it has firmly become a thing past and of reflection. i have lost the careful hold and sensation in my finger tips to gauge one thing or another (or to be wrong), so as a practice, this is also no longer a possibility.
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oh: and i almost entirely forgot Susan Hiller’s Dream Machine and that beautifully fraught Soviet apartment room recreation at the Tate.

 

For my work for the two modules, some of this can be drawn out further:

>> totality/ situation:

it relates to other sites, events:

  • Corridor as institutional site (with Green and other Green)
  • the line as body of work

My interest is in:

  • details events processes that are held in temporal and spatial proximity (maybe even just through my attention, there is no assumption that it is causal or functional)
  • part of that attention then concerns memory/ focus but also subjectivity
  • what gets deposited, contained and what doesn’t or can’t
  • so the totality/ situation/ event is one with open, blurry or fuzzy edges: things are bleeding in and out (does it make sense to focus on the blood?)

As much as this concerns the source material for a work, it also gives an indication over how to present it, how to realise it: Since House in 2015 I had thought of a room, an installation to re-access the site, to make it public. Similarly: there as an idea during D2 to do something similar with the corridor, to remodel it, to situate it elsewhere. Effectively, too, the work around Office at Night did something similar in its final realisation.

There are a series of ideas, possibilities from this:

  • a construction of a physical site to contain and hold together objects deemed relevant
  • a visual realisation (such as concept maps, presentation) or a publishing form that achieves something similar.

The kinds of materials gathered are small, ordinary, fleeting (and this makes a little clearer to me what I had initially written as the ordinary, every day in the first statement/ outline). So, the collection/archive/situation (I will need to have a closer look at what this is) is constituted in ordinary form, encounters, events, gestures.

 

There are a series of influences and references (many not new):

Katrina Palmer’s End Matter / Loss Adjuster

Joan Jonas larger performance cycles (I have one in mind in particular, I will need to look this up)

Juliana Spahr’s writings (This connection of everyone with with lungs, Army of Lovers and The transformation) that all try to assemble and hold in relation a whole range of things.

Fischli & Weiss’s installations were a reference point for the parallel project of D2 (and possibly to fold forward).

I had also revisited the Andy Warhol materials that informed the formation of the line (the diamond dusted screenprints but also Gilda Williams’s writing on Silver Sliver and the close attention to when present becomes past in his work).

One current show at the CCA in Glasgow, Sonic Seance presents a series of collaborative works around music, performance and spoken work in a setting that takes in two rooms, one an ante-chamber with sofas and reading materials; the other, larger one, has four screens with a video looping in each, some printed textile banners, many cushions and floor seating around a few tables, a wall-spanning projection of some grasses and above all and scent infusing the whole setting in fairly low lighting (the scent is for me just past comfortable and just about not making me feel nauseous).

I also, one reflection of my sketches and drawings for this, and how the sketchbook is developing, have been returning to Rosemarie Trockel’s work, notably the drawings and zines that I saw several years ago at Talbot Rice. There is a review of the show here, and it is good in capturing my memory of the show and what intrigued me in her drawings but also in the exhibition of her book drafts under glass.

 

critical reflections: source/materials

Collecting the notes from the two modules, I reread the coursebook and consider the instruction to explore, following an investigation of Marilene Olivier’s process and practice of what constitutes mine, notably along the line of:

theme — material — process

My notes, after some hesitation, state:

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— I had arrived at this through DI&C, notably the line, and then formalised it when compiling my materials in different forms and formats for assessment of D2. It is helpful, and in other ways also not, as it doesn’t help me organise them, help me shift them around and making them at once familiar and strange in the process.

I turn a page and start to collate what I have — being doubtful that I actually done enough ‘manifesting’, having remained and explored different route in great enough depth (the breadth wasn’t the problem, but I felt I had again flitted from a to k, and then to y).

This is a first collation of the materials that I drew into the process of gathering and manifesting:

img_8288

I added a few more notes to this since and on the next page started to spell out which notes (i.e. FB posts) relate to these and take them further (often in text, reflection or experimental; often in visuals to, these are generally stills or a/v sketches; less frequent are actual drawings).

I also flick back a few pages and annotate the theme/material/process further: the struggle over fixing these is that they seem to sit at the far edges of what I again understand to be artistic practice: much is conceptual, performative, but also in either form rather common (it is not a stage performance but a testing of processes, materials and edges).

There is little in the previous modules that prepared me for such a practice, it seems (and still I see such a practice all around me: the artists in Glasgow, the presentations at SAR etc., so I know it is perfectly fine as practice, but it rubs up against some of the earlier learning). In one of the coursebooks I read a line about how to proceed with a conceptual practice.

The materials and investigations are fairly substantial in what they are; yet, with how they sit in form and notation, I see why they easily slide out of view/ attention. So, over the past couple of days I started to collate them (and will continue to do that for a few more days) and then submit once I am back in the UK in the second half of July.

There are a series of questions for me right now:

  • what is the role of the moving image material, notably the films: there is something in the set that I noted down here that is really important.
    • what is it?
    • what role can it have?
    • what form can it have?
  • the role of books/zines for my work and the place for software/apps?
    • InDesign for the imposter zine and expectation/will
    • digital/anologue
    • but also: early powerpoint slides for some of the diagrams
  • audience/ public:
    • most my sketchbook still resides in FB and I moved some of these across, I keep the formatting as it seems relevant to denote the origin/translation process (but will investigate this a little further)
    • this has been a key focus recently:
      • the reposting of the line in FB
      • I invited people explicitly to a limited public album
      • the interactions with the Bleakley and Giles performances
      • the question of who is the public for expectation/will and the gap performance scores
  • what is the relationship sketchbooks and blog?
    • it relates to the notion of audience/public
    • it also relates to the investigation of form
    • I added a number of FB posts as sketchbook to the blog (namely for April), and will continue this for this part of BoW and investigate how to proceed.
  • materiality:
    • what is the kind of manifestation for this work?
    • what constitutes the work (as in questions concerning what constitutes the performance?
    • how do I address my desire/ joy to handle stuff with my hands
  • the role of movement in drawing/contact
    • it runs through much of this: as edge, transgression, volition
    • moving-with as key concept for the line text
    • how does this shift the focus? what do I lose by doing so?

I take these two at the lake shore, yesterday, they fit:

update/catch-up

— I have been busy. I also have been recording things that I have done and will move more of them here to the sketchbook and write up as relevant parts to coursework.

A couple of days ago was the already postponed submission date for the BoW 2/ Gather and manifest. I let it pass: I had thought of pulling things together but also felt that the more dialogical/public/relational aspects of it still needed further pushing about.

What I have been busy with was a series of writing/publishing projects. And in that process, I also considered Research further and how to proceed with it. I will rejig it and step further away from the coursework. I wrote (as I know I do) about 5k on the line for the conference publication within a few weeks. The piecemeal leading towards the dissertation doesn’t work for me, I find I am picking arguments with it (and that is only productive in a certain extent). So, I think I will set a series of writing tasks/ projects as equivalent to the module stages and take it from there.

I am also thinking about the idea of defining down and focusing in as discussed in the last tutorial (the report of which will go up after this post, I had it for several weeks — it is here). I think I am really not interested in defining things down — it goes back to the interesting discussion Rachel and I had about ambiguity. So much of what my writing and focus has been over the past few years is an opening out, a holding in tension, and linking to — and I don’t mean with that a ‘more, more’ or just any old stuff, but a rather careful and measured approach towards what elsewhere is considered emergence, or even some of the nomadic theory of Braidotti will hold a hand towards this approach. So, the idea of a glossary for the dissertation is a really good one, but what if it works more like Raymond Williams’s Keywords: a link, emergence, a holding in tension, not an undue tightening down?

I think I will explore this further and am reminded of the pieces of writing that I recently got sent (let me post and link these two.).